Villians, villains, everywhere! DC Comics is packed with them these days, from Forever Evil to the New Suicide Squad, but no villain has had such a prominent place since the start of the New 52 than Sinestro. Once headlining Green Lantern, the sinister ring-wielder has now graduated to his own ongoing title, written by perennial favorite Cullen Bunn. Bunn took time out to chat with Comicosity about all the players in this week’s Sinestro #1, as well as a little about what it’s like to write villains.
Cullen Bunn: Thank you! I’m really excited to be involved in this project!
A few things drew me toward this book. First of all, anti-heroes and villains have always appealed to me. I think they’re more interesting for the reader and for me as the writer. I love deeply flawed characters who are willing to do whatever it takes to accomplish their goals. I especially love those characters who can earn our sympathy and understanding, even when they’re taking actions we know are “evil” in nature.
I also thought this series would give me a chance to infuse some horror into the space super hero genre. The Yellow Lantern’s connection to the power of fear made that a natural fit for me.
And, finally, I’ve long wanted to work on an epic cosmic story, something with loads of new worlds and races, strange cultures and even stranger powers. Sinestro opens all of those doors for me!
MSG: With so many villain-centric titles cropping up as of late, I’ve been asking creators if they feel there’s a difference for them between writing straight super-heroes and characters who hover on the other side of the line? Are there any specific challenges or advantages to helming a villain-based series?
CB: The challenge, I think, is to make the villain relatable to the average reader. Being a cool badass isn’t enough. The reader needs to feel some emotional connection to the character. That way, even if they don’t agree with their actions, they can at least understand the motivations. I want readers to think “I might behave the same if I was in that situation.”
One of the things I like about writing a villain series is that it can appeal to readers who want to see the villain succeed… and it can appeal to those who want to see the villain fail. There’s nothing wrong with playing both sides of the fence in that regard! It gives me a lot of freedom to toy with the readers emotions.
MSG: In issue #1, we see the return of Sinestro Corps member Lyssa Drak with a very significant enhancement. What was your inspiration or thought process for the addition of the Book of Parallax text to her body?
CB: Well, the branding of the words of Parallax on her body was something touched upon in the Sinestro one-shot a few months back. I just took that initial idea and ran with it. I liked the idea that branding oneself with the “words of fear” would have long-lasting ramifications. Some we see right away—Lyssa’s visions, for example. Others, such as Lyssa’s ability to recharge Sinestro’s ring, are hinted at and will be expanded further in the future. And there are still other changes that will be revealed later on!
MSG: Control of the Yellow Lanterns has shifted once again in Sinestro’s absence to Arkillo. Is leadership just a means to an end for Sinestro, or does he genuinely have a desire to lead and mentor this force in the universe, particularly now in the absence of the Guardians?
CB: Sinestro doesn’t feel as though he needs followers to validate his righteousness. He feels that he deserves them, yes, and that they should bow down to him. But he doesn’t need them. His ego is big enough to compensate for a lack of teammates.
I think it has become obvious that Sinestro has used and casually tossed aside the Sinestro Corps as he sees fit. I think if there was one Yellow Lantern who reflects this, it’s Arkillo. Sinestro has treated him like a whipped dog, and Arkillo keeps coming back. This time, though, maybe Arkillo has finally had enough. He’s grown weary of Sinestro repeatedly turning his back on the Corps, and he’s not welcoming him back with open arms. There are others among the Yellow Lanterns—many others—who feel the same.
But Sinestro still intends to rally the Yellow Lanterns to his cause. He doesn’t like the direction Arkillo has taken the Corps. He intends to restore them to their former glory, whether they like it or not.
MSG: The idea that some of his people survived the destruction of Korugar is a great motivating factor for Sinestro, but the question remains, once he has them all collected, what does he do with them? And how do you balance this altruism and self-centered control issues in a character like Sinestro?
CB: That IS a great question, and it is something that we’ll explore as the series progresses. Yes, Sinestro is focused on saving his people, but what does he expect in return? Admiration? Loyalty? Devotion? And what happens when he doesn’t get what he wants? Sinestro rescues a few Korugarians in the very first issue. Among them is a woman named Umaraal Jarta. She becomes something of a spiritual leader for the Korugarians and a troubling foil for Sinestro. These two leaders will but heads quite a bit as Sinestro discovers that being his people’s savior doesn’t wash away all his past sins.
MSG: Soranik Natu has had a relatively low profile of late, and we may be starting to see why. Will she remain a significant part of the cast of your book, and what are your thoughts on the father-daughter dynamic here?
CB: Soranik will play a crucial role in Sinestro going forward. The relationship between Sinestro and his daughter is something that really intrigues me. Sinestro wants Soranik to love and respect him, but she loathes him for everything he stands for. How does Sinestro try to win her over? Does it work? No matter how it plays out, the father/daughter dynamic between the two will be shaped by what happens in this book.
MSG: Your first issue also introduces the concept of the Paling, priests of anti-emotion. Sinestro, of course, is not the only Lantern who could be targeted by such a group of antagonists. Will we see the Paling going after other corps and will they be playing a large role in the Lantern universe as a whole?
CB: The Paling is bad news, and you might definitely see them going after other Lanterns. It is, however, Sinestro who first draws their wrath. His mission to save his people will quickly throw him into their line-of-sight, and they will become an recurring threat for the Yellow Lanterns.
MSG: Any final thoughts or special teases for the Comicosity audience?
CB: Look for Sinestro to lock horns with the Yellow Lanterns in coming issues! His return will not be met kindly, and he’ll need to fight to prove how serious he is!
There are a few mysteries that will come to light in coming issues. Most importantly, we’ll reveal just what exactly happened with Parallax in issue 5. I think that will be a shocker. And Soranik will not be the only Green Lantern to appear in this series within the first 6 issues.
Cullen Bunn writes the monthly adventures of Sinestro for DC Comics, but can also be found on books such as The Sixth Gun at Oni Press, The Remains for Monkeybrain, and Magneto for Marvel Comics.